Before the winter rains arrived, Lake Casitas was at 35.2 percent of capacity. Today, even with the above average rains, the lake has only risen to 36.7 percent of capacity. Thacher, and most of Ventura County, rely heavily on Casitas, so the level of water doesn’t just represent the dire drought conditions in our region, but also poses a direct threat to the School’s access to adequate sources of potable water. Thacher needs to do something extraordinary now.
In recent years the School has made great strides toward increasing our means of capturing and storing water and reducing our water usage, but these efforts fall short of the degree of self-reliance we think we can and should attain. After careful planning, the board and members of its buildings and grounds team have identified three promising initiatives that would save millions of gallons of water annually—potentially more than 40 percent of Thacher’s current annual water use. And thanks to a generous gift from the parents of the class of 2017, we have already made significant progress on this critical initiative.
Measure, monitor, and manage.
The first step was to continue to build Thacher’s capacity to measure, monitor, and manage all of our potable and non-potable water sources. An additional 40 controllers and 30 smart meters were recently installed to enable us to control and monitor Thacher’s complex potable and irrigation systems, which could save up to 3.6 million gallons of irrigation water a year.
Secure a safe, reliable, long-term source of potable water.
We currently source our potable water from Lake Casitas and Senior Canyon. Thacher hopes to develop a way to become as self-sufficient as possible, regardless of drought conditions. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to convert the well that currently supplies water to our Horse Program—a very reliable producer, even throughout the drought— to a well that supplies all of Thacher’s potable water needs (approximately 3 million gallons/year). The plan is to install a new liner, grout, and take steps to make the well sanitary per state and county standards.
Reuse Upper Field irrigation water & WWTP effluent.
The design of our athletic field allows us to collect and store water accumulated during rain and irrigation. We hope to add the capacity to capture runoff from the monthly field draining and add filters and aeration so that we can reuse the water to irrigate Upper Field. To achieve these, we’ll purchase and install two very large tanks, add a pumping station, and install an aeration capacity. We estimate that this will reduce water needs by approximately 1.2 million gallons/year, if not more.